Ran my first half marathon today. It was the 11 1/2th annual Potomac River Run. It took place along the C & O Canal just outside of Washington, DC. It’s billed as the easiest half marathon in America. That’s because the course is essentially flat. You run 6.55 miles in one direction, turn around and run back. No turns, no traffic, almost no hills. The 3 hills you do encounter are less than 10 feet high. The full marathons due to course twice.
I was very happy to be doing just a half. The thought of reaching the finish line only to go out and do the same course again was quite depressing.
The towpath next to the canal is dirt and packed stone. I was a bit concerned about getting pebbles in my shoes, but that never happened. Maybe the dirt is too well packed. The scenery along the canal was OK. It’s mid-November, well past the peak for autumn leaves. Many of the trees had already lost all their leaves. There was still enough green around though that it didn’t look totally dead. We did get some nice views of the Potomac River. And we passed some very cool mansions overlooking the river that looked like Bond villain lairs.
If you’re looking for a race with lots of cheering bystanders along the way, this is not the race for you. There were long stretches, especially on the first half of the race, when I was alone. There were a few other runners 500 feet in front, but that was it. The trail was still open to the public, so you pass the occasional dog walker. There were also aid stations every few miles of course. But nothing like the crowds of bystanders you’d expect in a city race. The C & O Canal park is unique in that it’s in the middle of the DC metropolitan area, but it’s still isolated. The Potomac River is on the south side of the path, and, on the other side of the canal, there’s a parkway, usually hidden by trees. It’s a massive, linear park, stretching about 180 miles from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD. Running 13.1 miles of it was quite enough for me.
The weather was very good for a half marathon. It was cloudy, but no rain. The temps were in the high 30s. That’s cold when you’re standing around, but I found it quite comfortable when running. I had a compression shirt on, with 2 tech shirts over that. It was enough, but not too much.
My wife and son came with me to cheer me on. When we got there, the boy, he’s 8, asked if they were going to make him run too. We assured him that no, they weren’t going to force him to run. He wasn’t keen on being out on a cold Sunday morning, but he got over it. They walked along the canal trail, in the opposite direction from the race, for a while after I started, then went back to the car and read their books.
Feeling happy sore in the legs right now. Babbled on enough. Time for more of season 1 of the Big Bang Theory. Good night.